Beyond the leisurely melodies and the abstinence theme on Avril Lavigne's latest single, "Don't Tell Me," lives a side of the 19-year-old singer many people never thought existed.
Elsewhere on her new album, Under My Skin, due May 25, the Canadian songstress tackles topics such as emotional isolation ("Together"), existential introspection ("How Does It Feel?") and a fear of growing up ("Nobody's Home") — subjects far more mature than the teenage crushes she sang about on 2002's Let Go.
"It's the same me. I wrote on both records, but my tastes have changed," she said. "I was like 16 when I was writing the first record."
While some of the themes on Lavigne's second album are darker, the music accompanying them has grown heavier. Where saccharine tones and bouncy choruses filled Let Go, distorted guitars crunch and rip through the pop structures on tunes such as "He Wasn't" and "Take Me Away" (see "Avril Lavigne Album Preview: Rock Rules On Under My Skin."). Lavigne insists it was no conscious decision on her part to turn the amps up and the moods down on Under My Skin; such hard left turns are a part of growing up.
"When you're younger, you're growing faster, and you're changing your mind all the time," she explained. "You feel this way one day, and you feel a different way another day. You're trying to figure out who you are and you're becoming who you're going to be."
Evidenced by the album's title, the dozen tracks also let her fans in the thought process she underwent while writing, recording and getting accustomed to her dynamic role as pop star and young adult.
"Under My Skin, it's what's there, what I think about, what maybe bugs me, and what's inside of me," she said, "what goes on in my head. I thought about calling it Inside of My Head, and then I was like, Under My Skin just has more of a ring to it."
In addition to maturing as a songwriter, Lavigne has also grown savvy as a businesswoman, knowing that slight departures are fine, but veering too far off a proven course is never a good idea.
"I'm into darker music and stuff, so I knew I was going to write my rock songs, but at the same time, I am a pop artist and radio play is a big thing for me," Lavigne said. "I knew that I shouldn't go completely in an opposite direction. It's good to have a couple that are easier to listen to, or have more elements of the last record in them.
"So I wrote the pop songs and the ballad and then I kind of just did what I want with the rest of the record."
For a feature on Avril, check out "Avril Lavigne: No Looking Back."